It’s been announced that the NHS will put in place targets for mental health waiting times for the first time. From April 2015, three quarters of those requiring talking therapies will be treated within six weeks, and 95% will be treated within 18 weeks.
But the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has stressed that still more needs to be done to keep people with mental illness in work.
In the latest annual mental health report, Professor Dame Sally Davies called on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to investigate if it would be cost effective to have ‘fast-track’ treatments for people who may fall out of work due to mental illness.
Dame Davies said: “Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time. One of the stark issues highlighted in this report is that 60-70 per cent of people with common mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are in work, so it is crucial that we take action to help those people stay in employment to benefit their own health, as well as the economy.”
Paul Shires, Executive Director at British Chambers of Commerce health cash plan provider Westfield Health, said: “We know mental health issues including stress, anxiety and depression are a huge problem affecting today’s workforce. Our own Big Work Survey revealed last year that nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of employees feel stressed at work so, clearly, action does need to be taken."
Many of the businesses surveyed by Westfield Health and YouGov in the Big Work Survey acknowledged stress as a problem in the workplace, with more than a quarter (26 per cent) saying it was a ‘common pressure’.
Paul said: “We welcome the news that mental health waiting time targets are going to be introduced but, while laudable, even six weeks is a long time to wait for anyone struggling with depression.”
Westfield Health’s Chamber Primary Health Plan is available to all members of the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. It includes a full Employee Assistance Programme providing access to a confidential 24 hour counselling and advice line, as well as face to face counselling sessions or cognitive behavioural therapy, if recommended by the telephone counsellors.
Paul added: “Proactive employers know their organisation is only as strong as its people, so managing the mental health of all staff is something employers can’t afford to ignore.”